Tag Archives: Writing

A Words Look: “Feelin’ Good Again” by Robert Earl Keen

Robert Earl Keen is one of those Texan singer/songwriters with that uncanny ability to write songs which are not only relatable but run like a movie in your head when you hear them.

“Feeling’ Good Again” is one of my favorites. It captures that feeling of home a person can have away from their actual home, in this case, the Mr. Blues bar/tavern down on Main Street. You want a short master course in writing, take a look at the lyrics of this song and study how Keen draws you into the scene and places you right next to the main character before recharging his soul with the familiarity and comfort of Mr. Blues.

My favorite parts are when he finds “three twenties and a ten” in his pocket and when he wished his friend was there and he “looked across the room and saw you standin’ on the stair”. But the best part may be the next line, “And when I caught your eye I saw you break into a grin”. So much potential backstory, enough to touch about any listeners soul.

“Feelin’ Good Again” by Robert Earl Keen

Standin’ down on Main Street
Across from Mr, Blues
In my faded leather jacket
And my weathered Brogan shoes
A chill north wind was blowin’
But the spring was comin’ on
As I wondered to myself
Just how long I had been gone

So I strolled across old Main Street
Walked down a flight of stairs
Stepped into the hall
And saw all my friends were there
A neon sign was flashin’ “Welcome come on in”
It feels so good feelin’ good again

My favorite band was playin’
An Otis Redding song
When they sang the chorus
Everybody sang along
Dan and Margarita
were swayin’ side by side
I heard they were divorcin’
But I guess they let it slide
And I wished I had some money with
which to buy a round

I wished I’d cashed my paycheck
Before I came to town
But I reached into my pocket
Found three twenties and a ten
It feels so good feelin’ good again

There was old man Perkins
Sittin’ on his stool
Watchin’ Butch and Jimmy John
Talkin’ loud and playin’ pool
The boys from Silver City
Were standin’ by the fire
Singin’ like they thought
they were the Tabernacle choir

And I wanted you to see them all
I wished that you were there
I looked across the room
and saw you standin’ on the stair
And when I caught your eye
I saw you break into a grin
It feels so good feelin’ good again

There are several good videos on YouTube of Robert Earl Keen singing “Feelin’ Good Again”, here are a couple I really liked.

And this one, because…biscuits!

Advertisements

Everybody Has A Story To Tell

Everybody has a story to tell.

Truth.

We all just need to tell our story.

In a few weeks, the month-long focus on writing these stories will begin. National Novel Writing Month will run again through the 30 days of November. Better known as NaNoWriMo, this program is an awesome opportunity to write with a support team spread out across this great planet.

We are made to tell stories. It’s coded in the marrow of our being. It has been passed down from generation to generation since the very first time primitive man told the story of the bear “which got away” or told his children about the time he outran a cheetah while crossing the savannah on a Friday night in his youth.

We are story-telling machines.

So, tell your story.

Please.

Write your story. Record your story. Just tell your story.

Get it down. Put it some place other than just inside your head.

Don’t worry if it’s good or bad. Quality does not matter—it can be cleaned up later. It can be shined up IF it is down somewhere it can be worked on if you want to.

Don’t worry about it being “good”. Good is subjective. Besides, you don’t ever have to show your writing to anyone else if you don’t want to.

The power is in your hands.

The power of your story.

Writing2

We are fortunate to have a local group of supporters for the 2015 NaNoWriMo. We have a local group based out of Manhattan, Kansas. Find out more about NaNoWriMo here. Sign up and take a shot at it.

(In fact, for the first time the Manhattan NaNoWriMo group is having some events at the Clay Center Carnegie Library. Check out the groups Facebook page to stay informed. I plan on attending events when I can and I hope you will too. It is always cool to meet writers of any age, shape, size or skill level. If you like telling stories or would like to learn more about telling stories, please join up or even send me a message.)

Telling your story can be a scary thing. Like coming up to bat with the game on the line or shooting a free throw to win the game, writing becomes easier with people in your dugout or on your bench who believe you can do it. From the Pulitzer Prize winner to the scrambling middle-grade guy writing quirky books he would like to have read when he was young, it is a scary thing to throw your story into the world. Having people to cheer you on, help shine up your work, and/or keep you going when you feel like quitting, is invaluable. The community of writers is awesome. They are out there if you need them.

Write your story.

Don’t worry about “winning”. Worry about writing. Get the words down. Place them somewhere one word at a time, or, as the great Anne LaMott says, write, “bird by bird”. Get it done and get it down. I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo for four years and have never hit the 50,000-word monthly goal. But, what I have done is set a 30,000+ word foundation for what eventually became three middle-grade novels. Not bad for an old football coach, huh?

I hope to see you write your story.

You know you have a good one rolling around inside your head.

Let it out.

Put it down on paper.

Just write!

#WriteCC15!

#Nerdlution

nerdlutiont555

When the inventors of the internet claim they invented it in order to collaborate with each other easier and quicker, I say, “Poppycock” , “Balederdash”, and other silly words which mean, “You’re kidding me, right?”

I feel they invented the internet with things like the Nerdy Book Club in mind. Communities of like-minded individuals from every facet and walk of life pulled together by the force of the written word. The Nerdy Book Club is a community. It is a tour de force in the educational and literary world.

Personally, I learn new things daily when I read the blog posts. Things about literacy, literature, readers, and authors. I have made many great friends through the Nerdy Book Club, people who are great writers, thinkers, teachers, and are willing to share this greatness to anyone.

The latest move forward is a little thing called #Nerdlution, or as Colby Sharp defines it, “part Nerdy Book Club, part resolution”. Pick something you want to improve upon and resolve to work at it for the next 50 days, December 2, 2013 thru January 20, 2014.

My #Nerdlution is to write 400 words a day for the 50 days. I resolve to push through the last 5% of a middle grade historical fiction about the Sultana steamboat disaster and finish the first draft of an off-the-wall middle grade adventure about a hidden society protecting the innocent world of the 100 Acre Wood.

How about you? Find something you wish to accomplish, resolve to accomplish it and join in the Nerdy Book Club’s #Nerdlution, Round One.

Faction Fiction

Faction? It is a little mental game I have played since I was young. It is fiction based on a fact. Take a fact and build a storyline around it. Over the years, it’s become one of my favorite writing exercises. Sometimes, those faction exercises grow legs and begin to walk (or run) on their own. That is exactly what happened with my MuseItYoung debut novel, THE YOUNGER DAYS.
Fact Number One
A relative told me of a family legend handed down from an old uncle, who grew up in the late 1800’s on a southwest Missouri farm. According to the story, the infamous outlaws Cole and Jim Younger spent the night in their barn while on the run from Pinkerton detectives after the James-Younger gang robbed a bank.
I began to see things from a young boy’s POV and a story began to fall in place.  The Younger brothers would be outlaw heroes of the boy main character while his parent’s would lead a life completely against anything to do with rebels or outlaws. The story started to walk, but it was still a short story at best.
Fact Number Two
“All from least to greatest shall know me says the Lord, for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.” -Jeremiah 31:34.
 In church one Sunday, the readings included the above verse. Through this simple verse about redemption and forgiveness, the story took off. A whole back story began to grow of a secret past shared between the parents and the outlaws. A past intertwined with the atrocities of the Border War battle for “Bloody” Kansas with it’s gangs of ruffians, Quantrill’s Raiders from Missouri and Doc Jennison’s Redlegs from Kansas. And from the POV of the young boy, who knows nothing of this hidden past, it set up a very solid framework to build an interesting surprise visit by his heroes, the Youngers. With this setup in place, the ideas really began to flow and my novel was born.
So, you see, there really are no trivial facts. With a little imagination and some creative faction juice, even a seemingly insignificant piece of information can blossom into a complete work of fiction.

THE YOUNGER DAYS Book Release Giveaway

I wrote a book. Seriously, I did. It is a book for the upper middle grade (10-14 year old) boy crowd, but I think anyone can enjoy it. I know it may be a bit surprising to some of you, but it’s true. A bit of a shock similar to the time I gave a pre-game speech using Luke 11:23 as the theme, only to have just one player respond with, “Coach, you read the Bible?”

Yes, it is true. I read the Bible AND I write. I had an idea, I scribbled it down, it rattled around in my head for several  years then I wrote all 25,500 words down in just the right order. A series of rejections, followed by a series of fortunate events, finally landed a contract with MuseItUp Publishing, who released it as an ebook on March 9, 2012.

Now that the ebook is out, I have to also become a salesman. It is the way of modern publishing; part writer, part editor, part marketer, part sales. I am not a salesman. Sure, I want as many people to read the book as humanly possible, but I am not a salesman. Never have been. I hated going house to house hawking fund-raisers as a kid.  As a 13-year old, I refused to sell candy bars for the school’s summer baseball program. Wouldn’t do it. My coach that year was also in charge of the fundraising for the baseball program. He told me I HAD to sell candy bars or sit the bench. I refused. I sat the bench. I was a pretty good player, but I wouldn’t budge on my position. I sat the bench. I am not a good salesman.

I stunk at trying to sell our summer conditioning program to the kids. I couldn’t bring myself to Tony Little-ize a sales pitch to the kids. Fortunately Coach Lane stepped in and was able to convince kids to come, he sold it much better than I ever could have.  My part became to sell the results through action and work.  Show up, work hard and you will notice a difference in your body in two weeks.  Once they gave the program a chance, they liked the results and came back day after day.

So, here’s the sales pitch. Try the book, give it a chance and you (or young people you know) may like the results. And priced at $3.50, it is actually cheaper than one of those World’s Finest chocolate bars or boxes of pastel-colored, candy-coated almonds.

You can find the ebook at these places:

MuseItUp Publishing Bookstore

Amazon Bookstore

And here’s a giveaway of an ebook copy of THE YOUNGER DAYS. Leave a comment here or at my THE COACH HAYS page, to respond to the question below. A winner from the respondents will be randomly selected on April Fool’s Day, 2012.

Question: What was the worst, most hated, most despised thing you ever had to sell as a kid?